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LITERARY    LIFE                       2O5

spoke sometimes of events, and sometimes of their own feelings,
and having finished what they had to say, they took leave and
departed." The difference between literature and mere
writing is only that some say it beautifully and others do not,
and they who say it more beautifully than others survive.

The lyrical origin of literature makes it possible for us to
regard literature as a reflection of man's soul, and to regard a
nation's literature as the reflection of man's spirit in that nation.
For if life may be compared to a large city, a man's writing
may be regarded as the window in his garret from which he
views the city. In reading a man's writing we but wish to
look at life from his garret window and obtain a view of life
as the writer sees it. The stars, the clouds, the mountain peaks
lining the horizon, and the alleyways and housetops in the
city are all the same, but that garret view of the city is indivi-
dualistic and peculiarly his own. In reviewing a nation's
literature we are therefore but trying to get a glimpse of life
as the best minds of that nation see it and as they express it
through their own peculiar medium.


The accident of the Chinese literary medium, or the Chinese
language, has largely determined the peculiar development of
Chinese literature. By comparison with the European lan-
guages it is possible to trace how much of the peculiarities of
Chinese thought and literature are due simply to their possession
of a so-called monosyllabic language. The fact that the
Chinese spoke in syllables like chingy chong> chang was appalling
in consequences. This monosyllabism determined the character
of the Chinese writing, and the character of the Chinese
writing brought about the continuity of the literary heritage
and therefore even influenced the conservatism of Chinese
thought. It was further responsible for the development of
a literary language quite distinct from the spoken language.
This, in turn, made learning difficult and necessarily the
privilege of a limited class. Finally, the monosyllabism directly